About a year ago, one of my former-job coworkers happened to park next to me and noticed that the tread on my front right tire was so thin that the steel belt was coming through. This highly observant coworker spent her weekends wearing a helmet and driving a Lotus around a track in the desert, so I took her judgment about the state of my tread fairly seriously, and after work I drove (slowly) to the tire shop. The tire professional who looked at my tread actually gasped. Maybe he does that to everyone? It's a sure way to sell some tires. After he'd installed two new Michelin knock-offs for me, he took me aside and ran down some simple concepts about alignment and rotation and blahblahblahyouneednewtierods. "New what?" TIE RODS. "Tire rods?" Of course, tire rods, because what else would possibly keep your tires in place but tire rods? I filed one copy of his advice in the mental file drawer marked Things That Will Quietly Nag At You For The Next Year and another copy in the drawer marked Your Regular Mechanic Will Probably Do It Cheaper But You Won't Bother To Ask Him Until The Car Starts Shimmying So Badly You Can Barely Grip The Wheel, and drove (speedily) away.
Naturally, about a year later the car started shimmying so badly I could barely keep a grip on the wheel, but only when I was going above 65 mph. Sure, go ahead and tell me that that 65 is the speed limit. Uh huh. And my reply to that is that the cops out here don't even look up from their grilled cheese sandwiches unless you're doing 80. And also, you need to get the fuck out of my way.
HOWEVER, because I was worried about the wheels just flying off my car, and unsure whether the centaurs I psychically imagined protecting each of my front tires were there to avert disaster or were merely waiting to transport me to the afterlife, I kept it at 65 until I could make an appointment with my mechanic. Which, because I am me and not someone who takes care of things in a timely manner, took about three months. Basically, I spent all summer driving in the slow lane and fearing for my life, and this taught me a few things.
- The earth will not throw up its hands in defeat and plummet into the sun if someone passes me;
- There are good reasons for driving in the slow lane! Such as (a) you have an open bowl of goldfish in the front seat; (b) someone in your car will throw up unless you keep fresh sea air blowing (but not blasting) through the car; (c) the bloody stump that you used to call your foot can only withstand the pressure against the gas pedal needed to go 65 and not a pound more or you will pass out from agony and crash;
- If I stop thinking about passing every moron ahead of me, I can focus on creating playlists on my iPod and texting (Ha ha! Kidding!);
- If I leave the house early, I don't have to drive everywhere in a state of utter panic.
So, whatever, I went to my mechanic and he replaced ONE tie rod. (Not two! Suck it, tire shop!) (Actually, I can't tell the tire shop to suck it because my mechanic sent me back there to get my tires rebalanced and they did it for free.) Afterward, shimmy-free, I felt so calm and liberated that it took me nearly a week before I remembered I had all those morons to pass or the sun would explode and vaporize us all.